Seven days after he presented himself to the State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, Panti, Yaba, Lagos, regarding the assault allegation against him, afrobeat singer Seun Kuti was yesterday released on bail from police custody.
His attorneys, Mr. Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika and Mr. Kunle Adegoke, had intimated that he would be released yesterday after fulfilling all of the bail terms before he was actually released last night.
Following his release from custody, some of Kuti’s friends and followers could be seen celebrating outside the police station.
In a widely shared video, his supporters could be seen giving him hugs as he emerged from the police station.
According to reports, friends and family members surrounded his Ikeja home in anticipation of his arrival.
Meanwhile, human rights lawyers and activists, yesterday, kicked against the maltreatment of Afro-beat musician by the Police.
Their reactions came as Kuti’s court hearing over the assault charges, filed against him by the Police before a Chief Magistrate’s Court, in Yaba, Lagos, was stalled, yesterday, due to the absence of the presiding Magistrate, Adeola Olatubosun.
Seun Kuti, son of late Afrobeat legend, Fela Kuti, was in a court ordered detention at the State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, Panti, Yaba, Lagos, following his arraignment for allegedly assaulting a Police officer.
The court had, on May 15, 2023, after his arraignment, ordered that Kuti should be detained for 48 hours and should be released on bail thereafter.
Upon an application by the Police, the court, last Thursday, extended Kuti’s detention at the SCID by four days to allow the Police conclude their investigation.
However, when Kuti was taken to court, yesterday, the court did not sit, as the magistrate was reportedly on a training.
The court registrar later informed parties that the matter had been adjourned to today.
Outside the court premises, Kuti’s supporters, in their large numbers, protested against his continued detention by the Police.
They held posters and banners with inscriptions such as ‘End police brutality’, ‘Free Sun Kuti’, among others.
One of the protesters, an activist and National Secretary of Youths Rise Movement, YRM, Francis Mwaba, demanded the unconditional release of the musician “between now and tomorrow.”
He said: “Seun must be released unconditionally between now and tomorrow, or we are going to go back to the street.”
Another activist and member of the Movement of the People, MOP, Kunle Ajayi, accused the police of collaborating with the magistrate to frustrate the trial.
“There have been a lot of collaborations to stop us. Nobody can stop us, because when we rise, we rise. We are watching with our two eyes open in a very painstaking manner,” he said.
We’ve fulfilled bail condition, awaiting his release —Kuti’s Lawyers
In a statement made available to Vanguard, Kuti’s lawyers had expressed optimism that their client will be released yesterday, stating that they have fulfilled all the conditions set for his administrative bail.
The statement reads: “The Court, as you will recall, had ordered that the prosecution of the case must be by the DPP’s office and not by the Police, hence the Police was also ordered to send the case file to the DPP for evaluation and decision as to prosecution.
“The court was therefore to sit today to receive the DPP’s advice, but did not because, as we’re informed, the Magistrate is attending a training course. However, the Advice of the DPP is not ready as the police investigation team is still holding on to the case file.
“Nevertheless, the release of Mr. Kuti on bail, as ordered by the Magistrate, is only waiting for administrative approval. That process has nothing to do with whether or not the court has a physical sitting. We are hopeful that Mr. Kuti will be out today on the bail granted him, having fulfilled the terms.”
Lawyers kick against maltreatment
Meanwhile, some human rights lawyers yesterday kicked against the inhumane treatment which the Police has subjected Kuti’s to including obtaining an order to conduct a mental test on him.
“Some of the lawyers who spoke to Vanguard condemned what they described as indecent treatment melted to him, calling on the Police High Command to call the officers handling the case to order.
Police must respect Kuti’s rights —Ugwumadu
Reacting to the issue, former President of the Center for Defence of Human Rights, CDHR, Malachy Ugwumadu said the Police must respect the rights of Kuti as a defendant as enshrined in the law.
He said: The current contemporary law relating to the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, ACJL, in Nigeria, completely and effectively prohibits any form of inhumane or degrading treatment of a suspect- no less a defendant who is an accused person. The Constitution of the Federal Republic, 1999 as amended, under section 34 and 35 guarantees the right of every Nigerian to dignity of his human person. In the same manner, it abhors any form of torture. In fact, it clearly stipulates that in no circumstance shall a citizen be subjected to any form of inhuman treatment.
“There is no exception for a person under Police custody or incarcerated for one reason or the other. The constitution does not allow that even for a convicted person. When the liberty of a Nigerian is unnecessarily infringed upon, such a person is entitled to a public apology from the appropriate authority.
“Under section 8 of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act, even the Police are prohibited from treating Nigerians in a degrading manner. That section insists that a suspect must be accorded humane treatment having regards to his right to dignity of his person. Section 1(a)2 and 3(1) of the Anti-torture act of 2011, Nigeria has outlawed in clear terms, any form of inhumane treatment. Also the Police Establishment 2020 is clear and unambiguous in relation to how the police are expected to treat a suspect.
Police should stop needless dramatization —Edun
“Also condemning the action of the Police, former National Publicity Secretary and current National Welfare Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Olukunle Edun said: “Nigeria is a country of laws. Seun Kuti is still under the custody of the Police for allegedly slapping a police officer. No one should be above the law.
“Ordinarily, being a case of alleged assault, it only requires a summary trial at the Magistrate Court. Under the 1999 Constitution any person arrested should be charged to court within a reasonable time. 24 hours is a very reasonable time in this context. Except that the Police want to get its own pound of flesh with the long and unjustified detention of Kuti, I fail to see any legal justification for the remand order, particularly when he voluntarily surrendered to the Police.
“I expected that by now the DPP of Lagos State would have taken over the proceedings at the Magistrate Court from the Police since the Police has refused to hand over the case file to the DPP, which itself is a disobedience to the order of the court.
“The Judiciary should refuse to be a willing tool in any attempt to breach the fundamental rights of Seun Kuti. He is still presumed innocent by the Constitution of Nigeria and must be treated decently and with dignity. It’s likely that the way the Police is handling the matter; it may soon lose public sympathy. They should stop the dramatizations.”
Subjecting Kuti to blood test for in sanity wrong — Ademiluyi
Lawyer to victims of Lekki toll gate massacre, at the EndSARS panel, Ayodele Ademiluyi also condemned Police treatment of Kuti.
He said: “I condemn in every manner, the humiliating treatment meted out to Seun Kuti by the Nigeria Police since his submission to the force on Monday May 15, 2023. Apart from the fact that the Police filed a 21 remand order which was denied, they also obtained an order for a blood test for insanity. This action is bestial and highly condemnable.”